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Islington: Where angry people protest by singing Pink Floyd

PUBLISHED: 10:49 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:20 29 November 2017

Sotheby Mews Day Centre campaigners on the steps of Islington Town Hall before last night's full council meeting. Irma Gomez leads the protest on the megaphone. Picture: Polly Hancock

Sotheby Mews Day Centre campaigners on the steps of Islington Town Hall before last night's full council meeting. Irma Gomez leads the protest on the megaphone. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Some people consider “peak Islington” to be Upper Street’s generous range of artisan gluten-free bakeries. Others reckon it’s the Holloway homeowner who built a £2,500 cat glamping enclosure in her yard. But there was another contender on the steps of Islington Town Hall last night.

Campaigners protested the closure of a beloved community centre – by singing a specially adapted version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”.

An hour before the full council meeting, users of Sotheby Mews Day Centre launched into song: “We don’t need no isolation/ We don’t need no loneliness/ We don’t need to die alone/ Hey! Islington Council! Leave our place alone.”

As reported in the Gazette, Islington wants to knock down the Highbury day centre for elderly people and build a combination of council and private housing. Sotheby Mews users will be sent to the new Highbury Roundhouse, but they claim this will be unsuitable as it’s not tailored to their needs.

Their protest certainly caught Upper Street’s attention. Confused office workers supping pints in The Vineyard pub across the road squinted to see what was going on. Other passers-by stopped in their tracks to film the protest.

Eighty-year-old Irma Gomez, who previously described Sotheby Mews as her “lifeline”, led the rally through her loudspeaker, screaming: “We have to show the council we have power!”

Her grandson, in school uniform, also chipped in. He shouted: “Save Sotheby for my grandmother, and the grandmothers across Islington! Don’t let me down. I will need to go there when I’m older.”

Most councillors chose to avoid the baying Pink Floyd-singing mob (the children who sang on the original 1979 song were from the old Islington Green School) upon entering the town hall. One who did front up was housing boss Cllr Diarmaid Ward (Lab), who shook hands with protesters.

But things got heated when Cllr Ward accused Highbury East Cllr Caroline Russell (Green) of using the protest to promote her party. An angry Cllr Russell, wearing a “Save Sotheby Mews” t-shirt, responded: “Do you see any Green Party badges here, Diarmaid?”

Sotheby Mews Day Centre campaigners on the steps of Islington Town Hall before last night's full council meeting. Cllrs Diarmaid Ward and Caroline Russell have a difference of opinion. Picture: Polly Hancock Sotheby Mews Day Centre campaigners on the steps of Islington Town Hall before last night's full council meeting. Cllrs Diarmaid Ward and Caroline Russell have a difference of opinion. Picture: Polly Hancock

When questioned by users in the actual meeting, Cllr Ward insisted moving to the Roundhouse is a “solution that can benefit everybody”. Challenged by John Dear to visit Sotheby Mews and “learn the value of the site”, he replied: “Absolutely.”

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